Scouring the globe for top talent

Canva is undoubtedly one of the fastest growing SaaS companies in the world. The online design and publishing powerhouse prides itself on its easy-to-use – yet elegant – offering which takes a mere 23 seconds to learn. More than 10 million users rely on Canva for a range of design needs, from designing birthday cards, posters, social media graphics to presentations.

With its vision to democratise design for everyone, Canva has its sights on becoming the most valuable tech company in the world. Armed with this vision the company tapped Think & Grow’s expertise to find the right candidate to scale and run a critical business function – engineering.

The problem

Canva’s business was growing exponentially from all directions, including its user base and adding multi-language support. Expanding beyond Australian shores meant greater demands on its fast-growing engineering team.

The company quickly realised that it needed someone to look after the engineering function. From the outset, the leadership team wanted to hire a ‘people lead’ as opposed to a technical lead for the role. Canva secured the services of Think & Grow to conduct a global search for the Head of Engineering position.

The process

Think & Grow had various meetings with key stakeholders at Canva to understand their exact requirements, pain points and steps they had already taken in the recruitment process.

Canva wasn’t just looking for a technical gun to head the engineering team, they wanted someone who shared their mindset and vision to build a globally significant business. A key criteria was that the person was experienced enough and comfortable with overseeing 100% growth in the engineering function (100-plus people) in a short span.

Canva had prepared an excellent brief for the role; it was quickly obvious to Think & Grow that there was a very high chance that the ideal candidate would be coming from abroad.

To aid the hiring process, Canva provided Think & Grow with access to information only a select few would be privy to. “The information was similar to what an investor would get in a confidential pitch deck,” Think & Grow partner Anthony Sochan recalls. “This really enabled us to put our best foot forward in finding the best person. We were very thankful for the amount of trust Canva put in us”.

With the mecca for tech talent – Silicon Valley –a prime target for the role, Think & Grow was able to tap into its networks to deliver a solid shortlist of candidates. Included in this list were alumni and current employees of many top Silicon Valley businesses.

Outcomes

Sochan says it’s usually very difficult to entice someone to leave the no.1 tech and startup ecosystem in the world to relocate back to Australia but that’s exactly what Canva and Think & Grow were able to achieve.

Joel Hynoski was identified as the perfect candidate for the Head of Engineering post at Canva but not before he spent a week with Canva’s founders and got to know the engineering team.

“Flying Joel in from the US to spend that time with Canva was crucial – both parties had to be comfortable with each other, and build trust and rapport at the same time,” Sochan said.

Hynoski, who completed his tertiary education in Melbourne, had worked for some of the biggest names in the ecosystem, including Google, Apple, Twitter and Lyft.

“Joel had worked for some of the best software companies in the world. Silicon Valley will always be there and continue to produce amazing talent but to work at Canva was a once in a lifetime opportunity for him,” Sochan said.

Hynoski concurred, saying, “landing at Canva has been the best thing for me and my family.”

“It’s been awesome coming back to Australia and knowing that there’s a company like Canva with a fantastic culture, with a group of people who cannot be matched anywhere else in the world has been the best experience of my life.

‘I’m really grateful to Think & Grow for introducing this opportunity to me,” Hynoski said.

Client feedback

Hynoski described working with Think & Grow as “a flawless experience from start to finish”.

“From the initial reach out I got from them, the communication was awesome all the way through. They talked me through the process at every step and made sure that they synced up with me after every call (or) every time that I talked to the founders at Canva just to make sure I understood all of the different parameters of the role, feedback that they’d been given … anything I had to know to understand how the process was going.

“I would definitely recommend working with Think & Grow for any job seekers or a company trying to hire the right people.

“The way that they worked is really customised to everyone’s different experience so when I had different questions they were able to answer them in a way that made sense to me,” he said.

Hynoski said the prospect of moving back to Australia was exciting but also meant he had many unanswered questions for both himself and his family.

“For someone coming from overseas back to Australia, there were a lot of considerations that I had and they (Think & Grow) were able to answer those and had that information seemingly at the ready – it was like they anticipated my every need,” he said.

Project name

Head of Engineering

Client name

Canva

Website

canva.com